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Third Quarter 2020 Reading is a Joy

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Posted (edited)
46 minutes ago, Leap said:

Next up, all this talk of Harry Potter makes now a good time to finally pick up my copy of The Cursed Child, which has been sitting around since release (still a relative newcomer to the owned-unread pile). I have a horrible suspicion that I'm going to regret reading this.

*cackles maniacally, then breaks down into crying sobs*

Edited by Kyll.Ing.

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3 hours ago, Kyll.Ing. said:

*cackles maniacally, then breaks down into crying sobs*

:lol:

Well, I've gone through the first two acts while sort of doing work this afternoon. While I'd say I'm pleasantly engaged by the plot and setting, the characters and dialogue are...as expected.

Part 1 spoilers:

Spoiler

As much as I look back on Order of the Phoenix with some mixed feelings as an adult, sympathising a lot more with angry Harry than I did at the time, Albus is a little shit. I say that with no hesitation or humility despite the semi-obvious plot points bearing on it.

JK Rowling can say whatever she wants to retroactively edit such and such from the original series, nothing will ever be worse than Harry and Ginny's adolescent son repeatedly kissing 40-year old Hermione while Polyjuiced as Ron. :ack: 

 

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24 minutes ago, Leap said:

nothing will ever be worse than Harry and Ginny's adolescent son repeatedly kissing 40-year old Hermione while Polyjuiced as Ron. :ack:

Don't say that until you have finished the book.

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I finished The Starless Sea and found it to be a disappointment. The meandering story lacked a solid throughline and ended up being super confusing and not engaging in the end. The central romance was totally illogical and unearned in its importance in the latter portions. I really liked The Night Circus, so it's not like I'm unfamiliar with Morgernstern's style, but this was a miss IMO. I did finish it, it wasn't awful, but meh.

I've started listening to Finale, the third Caraval book by Stephanie Garber. I really enjoyed the first book in the series and kind of hated most of the second, so I didn't really plan to read this one, but I saw it at the library and thought why not...I'm already regretting it after only 30 minutes of listening. It's a YA fantasy romance book and the writing is just so fucking purple it's aggravating. Similes and metaphors every other sentence, many of which are just stupid and try-hard. I was hoping the POV character wouldn't be Donatella again because she suuucks, but so far it is. I already have wanted to slap her several times. I'm planning to soldier on, though...

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Posted (edited)

Is that what happens? :lol: Sounds like somebody was reading her own fanfic.

edit - oh yeah, remembered it wasn’t actually Rowling that wrote it, it was one of Britain’s most successful screenwriters, which somehow makes the use of fanfic tropes even worse. I believe they also crack out the time turners at one point. I have heard it works a lot better as a live performance than a script though.

Edited by john

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Hahaha, way to quote a spoiler dude

But yeah, it does devolve into not-so-glorified fan fiction in part two. So much for being engaged by the plot. Not too much more to say about it really. I don't feel any more enthusiastic about reading the main series, as I'd thought I might, but I might do so at some point just to wipe the slate clean. 

I think there is even a Star Wars Prequels reference in there. :huh:

Next up, a bit of a change of pace for me with The Etymologicon, by Mark Forsythe. I am going to have to create a new Goodreads shelf for this; I haven't read any linguistics since (or, in fact, during) University. Seems like excellent, easy-going fare so far though. 

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On 7/28/2020 at 9:31 AM, Poobah said:

I'd be interested in your thoughts on Axiom's End since I was thinking of picking it up.

I actually ended up really enjoying it. I think the beginning is a little rough, but once the actual story gets going, it gets much better. It's also a very quick read so even if you don't dig it, it won't last long. I mean, I'm the furthest from a "fast reader," but I finished it in about a week, so people who actually read quickly would likely finish it in no time. 

If I had some negatives, it'd be that the writing isn't flashy, but merely... functional. It gets the job done and doesn't really aim higher than that. The main character is also... she's fine. I feel like she's perpetually surrounded by much more compelling characters and it feels like she's "just along for the ride" for much of the story.

So, I enjoyed it. It's a good, quick read and a pretty good debut novel. I'm not sure I'll ever come back and reread this, but I'll most likely read the sequels when they come out. 3/5

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Posted (edited)

I'm motivated to read fiction again post worldcon. I have only read 9 fiction books this year before it but I have already finished 3 this week. :)

I read The Book of Koli in one go yesterday. Maybe not quite as good as The Girl with All the Gifts but still an interesting read in a creative setting. I pre ordered the sequel. 

 

I got just one little nitpick. You have to accept the premise that stuff from companies like Sony would last hundreds of years which is a bit of a stretch. The tech lasts forever trope has been ruined by modern technology not lastig very long at all. Also a device that is only a music player is a very niche product even nowadays. Some kind of tablet or smartphone would have made more sense. 

Edited by Luzifer's right hand
Spoiler code

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I recently read Cleo McDougal Regrets Nothing from Amazon First.  It was one of the July reads so I don't think you can get it for free on Prime anymore, but it's available on Kindle unlimited.  I really enjoyed it. 

It's about a young US Senator who is about to run for president and all the scrutiny that brings.  Some of the skeletons in her closet come out and the book is about how she deals with this.  Cleo herself is a flawed but very likable character.  Ironically everyone around her (except for maybe her best friend from high school) is more or less either a saint or a villain.

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19 hours ago, Luzifer's right hand said:

I read The Book of Koli in one go yesterday. Maybe not quite as good as The Girl with All the Gifts but still an interesting read in a creative setting. I pre ordered the sequel. 

My favorite of his books under the MR name is Fellside (love the Felix Castor series under Mike).  Will probably read Someone Like Me as part of my October horror reading this year, and will save The Book of Koli until the trilogy is complete.

 

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Just started Ted Chiang's short story collection "Stories of Your Life and Others." I've been a fan ever since I read his short story "Understand" which won a Hugo for Best Novellette.

I was blown away by this book! Most amazing read in 2020! I had to stop right in the middle of it since I need more time to process the stuff I've already read. 

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I finished Kate Elliott's Unconquerable Sun. I was a bit distracted at first trying to work out which characters correspond with which historical figures but overall it's good space opera fun. One of the things Elliott's particularly good at is coming up with various interesting cultures and then seeing how they interact and there's definitely more of that in this book.

Next up I'm going to read Tamsyn Muir's Harrow the Ninth. I was going to put it off a bit so as not to go from space opera straight into necromancer space opera but, bollocks to it, I'm quite looking forward to this one.

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2 minutes ago, ljkeane said:

I finished Kate Elliott's Unconquerable Sun.

I thought at first this was an Exalted book about Sol Invictus, the Unconquered Sun, god of the sun and patron of the Solar Exalted. 

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2 minutes ago, Gigei said:

I thought at first this was an Exalted book about Sol Invictus, the Unconquered Sun, god of the sun and patron of the Solar Exalted. 

Heh, no, it's Alexander the Great in space.

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I finished The Red Knight, the first book in Christian Cameron's Traitor Son cycle, this morning.  I did not enjoy this book nearly as much as I liked his works in The Long War series.  This is probably a matter of individual taste, as I have a strong appetite for classical Greek history, but I am wary of Arthurian re-tellings.

Upon reflection, he does a terrific job of setting up an antagonist that the reader will really relish hating, and the Sir Lancelot vibes are strong in this character.  The world-building is slow, and because of the similarities to the Arthurian romance, I was constantly drawn out of the story itself and flinching away from what I was afraid would be a pastiche of modern fantasy and high chivalric tales.  But in the end, the world is far enough away to settle my raised hackles.

Again this may be a personal preference, but his work in The Long War is so outstanding in setting up a real and realistic set of characters and conflicts in the Aegean that I was disappointed in The Red Knight as a person and the other POV characters in this book.  Had I read The Red Knight first, I would likely have been a lot more satisfied and entertained by the story itself, not expecting it to be right off the top shelf.

Summary:  Good book, fine read, but not as much to my taste as some of his other work.

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3 hours ago, ljkeane said:

I finished Kate Elliott's Unconquerable Sun. I was a bit distracted at first trying to work out which characters correspond with which historical figures but overall it's good space opera fun. One of the things Elliott's particularly good at is coming up with various interesting cultures and then seeing how they interact and there's definitely more of that in this book.

 

I love the concept behind this book, but my one worry about it (after reading a couple reviews) is that it's going to be all military/action scenes, all the time. I know it's based on Alexander, so that's not too surprising, but would you say that the focus of the book is on action, or on the cultural interaction stuff, which is more my thing?

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6 hours ago, Gigei said:

Just started Ted Chiang's short story collection "Stories of Your Life and Others." I've been a fan ever since I read his short story "Understand" which won a Hugo for Best Novellette.

I was blown away by this book! Most amazing read in 2020! I had to stop right in the middle of it since I need more time to process the stuff I've already read. 

I think he is one of the best current writers of SF/fantasy short stories.

I read his other collection, Exhalation, recently and it also had some very good stories.

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1 hour ago, Caligula_K3 said:

I love the concept behind this book, but my one worry about it (after reading a couple reviews) is that it's going to be all military/action scenes, all the time. I know it's based on Alexander, so that's not too surprising, but would you say that the focus of the book is on action, or on the cultural interaction stuff, which is more my thing?

There is a fair bit of action but you can't really go wrong with Kate Elliott if what you like is cultural interaction. Having said that there isn't a huge amount in this book because it corresponds with the period of political maneuvering in Phillip's court prior to his death. We see a bit of the Achaemenid stand ins but it's really setting the scene for future books.

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10 hours ago, williamjm said:

I think he is one of the best current writers of SF/fantasy short stories.

I read his other collection, Exhalation, recently and it also had some very good stories.

He's amazing. I'll definitely read his other short story collection.

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